Jonas Kaufmann: Come watch us at the movies

The tenor put in a plug for watching big stars at live cinema relays in a BBC Today programme interview.

Listen to it here, starting at 2:24:00

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  • I’m NOT looking forward to the Esultate! tomorrow — a horrible abuse of a Lied voice. I don’t even want reports.

  • Olassus: Indeed, and even the Lied voice is abused by artificial “darkening” and overweighting!

    I’m glad to have seen Otello performances with Vickers and others of his generation (not to mention the other stellar names of that generation).

    One only has to compare “live” recordings of their performances with today’s “offerings” – they speak for themselves!

    • Lucky you. I never heard JV in this role. First was Domingo, Feb. 16, 1980, at the ROH with some German-Argentinian conductor.

      • I too was at the first night of those runs of Otello (a very young mouse who had been taken out of boarding school, specially).

        A performance all the more remarkable because the whole thing was done at short notice (it was meant to be Chenier with Muti conducting, I think). It reduced Domingo’s uber-fan, Dame Eva Turner, to tears.

        Those who sing Verdi these days are a shadow of the true Verdians I heard when young. You can hardly hear them over the sound of Verdi spinning in his grave. And they have none of the dynamic range and depth of feeling Verdi needs.

        Here’s an Otello I wish I’d heard:

        • … except that Magda Olivero never sang Desdemona at the Met, HvK never conducted the opera there, and Vinay didn’t sing the role in New York in 1951 — so it is not clear what we are hearing.

          • My guess is that this is from the La Scala performances with Da Sabata conducting. It’s definitely Vinay, though. And he’s definitely wonderful.

          • Yes, that is possible. Would be with RT and Bechi.

            Can’t listen right now. Anyway, thanks.

    • It is not a question of giving him a chance. He might do quite well. He will bring intelligence to the portrayal, will act well, project the words, be a good colleague.

      But he shouldn’t be doing it at all, and the Esultate! will be scarcely audible (I hope).

      And of course Pappano can’t conduct Verdi, making it all doubly annoying, an effort squandered — because Otello requires a maestro of phenomenal skill as well as an affinity for the composer’s methods and DNA.


  • Olassus; Domingo was a decent Otello – but (in my opinion) Vickers was quite unique! He had an enormous dynamic range coupled with incredible musicality and dramatic instinct. Alas, neither the commercial (Serafin) audio or the vK. film have much to do with his live rendering. The Met. video with Scotto comes closer.
    I suspect those lucky enough to have seen Callas in her heyday can draw similar comparisons.

    Now we have the uninitiated claiming that a certain Russian “Diva” has it all – and is even better than ANY of her predecessors (s. ParterreBox)!

    Really rather sad, and it’s not a matter of opinion – you only have to listen with acute ears and forget the hype!

    Alas, the opera business has propelled Mr. Kaufmann into similar spheres – but it’s an industry, and in addition, many need to think their 300- 600 Euro tickets (at Festival prices) are worth every Cent – believing they’ve witnessed something monumental!

    For those who remember Schwarzkopf, Nilsson, both Prices, Bumbry, Cotrubas, Popp, A.Kraus, Gedda, Merrill, etc.,etc.,etc., “Monumental” is a word no longer – or very, very seldom – appropriate in today’s opera world!

    • Vickers unique? Heard him a couple of times at covent garden, didn’t like that sound, sqeezed toothpaste method, big voice but a lot of crooning, another fabrication of the british media (vickers, bostridge, kirkby…), mind you he was an okay singer but compared to the one giant Del Monaco he pales in comparison. Kaufman though not having the volume of vickers will be a better Otello, but he won’t reach del monaco’s needs.
      I understand he wants to do it, why not, he’s not that young anymore, but the role is a voice killer, Del Monaco just ended up singing Otellos only. He was the last GREAT Otello…

      • It wasn’t the role that ended del Monaco’s career, it was his ingolato technique – a stunning parallel with today’s singers.

        Here is a recording of the tenor for whom Verdi wrote the role, Tamagno. It is worth noting that Tamagno was still singing right up to his death at the age of 55, 18 years after he had premiered Otello, and that the only thing that might have reduced his vocal health was an inherited heart defect, which forced him to retire from the opera stage a little early. The few (very early) recordings of him, made in late middle age, show him to still be in fine voice.

        • It is interesting t see the foto portraits of Tamagno. He has the same type of face/head as Placido Domingo and Jonas Kaufmann. Seems, the physical characteristics are typical for the (baritonal) sound of the voice.

          • Most Verdi tenors sing as baritones early on and that is what causes the darkness in the voice. Bergonzi sang Figaro and the Cook by before moving into the tenor role. Domingo’s prior career as a baritone is well known.

            Kaufmann’s dark tone is imposed. If you hear him singing Ferrnado early on the sound is very different.

    • Martain, yes, Vickers was unique and as you say “musical,” which kept him interesting. I heard his Tristan on stage, also his Canio, Grimes and Parsifal. The Britten worked best. I don’t share Fred’s reservation about “crooning” — people say the same about JK, and no one knows what it means. The 1973 HvK film soundtrack is a grotesque knob-twiddling distortion, nothing to do with Verdi, but JV left nine recordings of Otello, so we don’t need it. I want to hear the 1963 Buenos Aires performance opposite Kabaivanska.

      Parterre Box has declined since its heyday 5 or 6 years ago. Many of the smartest posters were run off, and so it became less rewarding.

      About the Russian diva, we must note her achievements in Verdi, not just the “ina” repertory. And the Puccini Manon in Rome was superb. In two months’ time she adds Aida, which might be good, assuming the conductor does his job properly.

      • Vickers’ interpretation conforms to Voltaire’s description of Otello as a ‘jewelled toad’.

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